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Today I read a remarkable phrase: “spiritual orgasm”. What a wonderful description. It was attached as the title of an article on Dangerous Minds called “Like a Spiritual Orgasm: Miles Davis Plays the Isle of Wight Festival”. I’ve been searching for this phrase my whole life! And, it led me to listen to Miles Davis, which is poem fodder for sure.

I’m sure the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 was a spiritual orgasm. Davis played to an audience of 600,000 people–the largest pop festival in history at the time. According to the article, Davis improvised much of his performance.  He played to the emotion of the crowd, and that is my new goal. A shared creative awakening between artist and audience–what could be more intimate than that? Granted, Jazz critic Stanley Crouch calls it bullshit, and says that Davis was just trying to make some money towards the end of his career, but he was still reaching people, and how can it really be selling out if he provided even one of those 600,000 a “spiritual orgasm”? God, I love a trumpet.

I’m also inspired today by an article on Brain Pickings called “How Love Works: Stendhal on “Crystallization and the Seven Stages of Love (1822)”. Number five:

“5. The first crystallization begins. If you are sure that a woman loves you, it is a pleasure to endow her with a thousand perfections and to count your blessings with infinite satisfaction. In the end you overrate wildly, and regard her as something fallen from Heaven, unknown as yet, but certain to be yours.

Leave a lover with his thoughts for twenty-four hours, and this is what will happen:

At the salt mines of Salzburg, they throw a leafless wintry bough into one of the abandoned workings. Two or three months later they haul it out covered with a shining deposit of crystals. The smallest twig, no bigger than a tom-tit’s claw, is studded with a galaxy of scintillating diamonds. The original branch is no longer recognizable.

What I have called crystallization is a mental process which draws from everything that happens new proofs of the perfection of the loved one.

You hear a traveller speaking of the cool orange groves beside the sea at Genoa in the summer heat: Oh, if you could only share that coolness with her!


The phenomenon that I have called crystallization springs from Nature, which ordains that we shall feel pleasure and sends the blood to our heads. It also evolves from the feeling that the degree of pleasure is related to the perfections of the loved one, and from the idea that ‘She is mine.’”

What I now aim for is that most vulnerable of moments in art, followed by the crystallization of my words in someone’s brain. They crystallize for my husband, or so he says, but we have already been through the stages and we are fully in stage seven:

“The second crystallization, which deposits diamond layers of proof that ‘she loves me.’

Every few minutes throughout the night which follows the birth of doubt, the lover has a moment of dreadful misgiving, and then reassures himself, ‘she loves me’; and crystallization begins to reveal new charms. Then once again the haggard eye of doubt pierces him and he stops transfixed. He forgets to draw breath and mutters, ‘But does she love me?’ Torn between doubt and delight, the poor lover convinces himself that she could give him such pleasure as he could find nowhere else on earth.”

So, that makes him a little suspect in his admiration. Many artists have reached that level for me, but I’m left here in time, without them. They come back to me, though, in ways unexpected.

Today I’d like to relive the seven stages of our crystallization. That means this poem might get too specific to lend itself to anyone else’s spiritual orgasm, but it might lead to my own, which will only increase my nascent skills, I think.


Seven Stages

1. In which you don’t pick up on my hints and take three weeks to ask me out, despite my obvious flirting during breaks in our grad seminar.

2. In which you finally do. And in which you touch my arm while showing me your Cervantes poster. And when you make your move in front of the busted projector. And we kiss.

3. Heels right up over my head. The original branch.

4. In which we spend three weeks driving up the California coast and my mom keeps calling to “make sure he’s not sick of you yet”. We fall out of the back of the Ton Ton when the state park guy catches us sleeping in the back on the side of the road and then we share a peach with that old surfer. In which we pitch the tent in a divot and wake up in a lake. In which San Francisco, and Tahoe, and Portland. In which waterfall. In which you decide to get a dog.

5. In which you believe in me through many crises of confidence, and I you. In which “Oh God, how can I make this luck last?”. The blessings of cabin seven and the crystallization of the branch in the salt.

6. The combination of genetic codes and the greatest improvisation the world has ever known. Holding these minutes onstage until the notes are just right.

7. The second crystallization of sounds sustained over beats.  The reinstitution of the understanding that I buoy you, and vice versa. In which you caretake. In which we are on our way to play different music.  In which the late star nights underscored by the creak of the everlasting rise.


In this documentary I’m watching, “Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue”, Joni Mitchell says paraphrasing here:  “there are some people who are fluid, changeable. Some people thrive on change. Miles did. Every time you change, you have to be ready to experience massive rejection. There are these pop musicians now who know that people like these formula chords, so that is what they play. I think that’s ick. Music is when you pull the chords from your inner core, whether people like them or not”.  Happy Ides of March, poem friends.